Vol.XIV No.XII Pg.2
February 1978

Man, As God Made Him

Robert F. Turner

If asked to name the ONE main doctrinal difference in N. T. Christians and nominal Christians of the world — a little discussed, poorly understood concept would vie for the place. We refer to the nature of man, his power of choice, FREE AGENCY.

The "masses" of nominal Christians claim to believe in free will, but their theologians deny it. Doctrines to which many hold can not be maintained if man is truly a free agent; and the exegetes know this, even when the laymen do not. Those who give lip-service to free will may be unaware of their inconsistency, or taken in by the double-talk used in discussion of the subject. Many others have not recognized the relation of what they are supposed to believe to doctrines that fathered these concepts.

Augustine (354-430), influenced by his own struggle with sin, concluded that man was so far depraved as to be incapable of implementing his move toward God. (Theorist have a field day speculating about man before the fall, etc., but we are concerned with Joe Dokes, now.) We believe God made man capable of saying "Yes" or No to His will; that he has consistently dealt with man on this basis (before and after the "fall"), and that Jesus Christ is freely offered as the remedy for sin to all mankind, effective to each particular individual only as that individual wills, consents, and seeks to obey. (We believe "faith" is man's response to divine evidence; not some "work of grace" that God puts into man irrespective of man's will.) God's sovereignty will be vindicated in final judgment, when man must answer for his "No" --- but for now, the choice is up to man. This is not equivalent to man's saving himself, for "all have sinned and come short...." (Rom. 3:23); and can stand free of guilt only through forgiveness, made possible by Jesus Christ. Christ is the means of redemption, but it is man's choice as to whether he uses that means or refuses it. There is no human element in the provision of means of redemption, but we must meet the divinely ordained condition. This is not a question of what God could de, but a question of what His word says he will do; and that is all we can know about it.

Concepts of Adamic sin that deprive man of this capability; of the direct operation of God's Spirit in man's conversion; of the "enabling" indwelling Spirit in his understanding of the word, or Christian life; or any other concept that negates the free agency which God saw fit to give man; is an affront to God's revelation of His will in His word.